I am about to play a sport like volleyball or basketball (but it is neither) in the gymnasium of the high school I used to attend. My eldest sister is on my team, and we are all taking our positions, which are similar to hockey positions. She plays centre and I play right wing (the position I usually was when I played hockey as a kid). The referee comments on my sister's attire. She has knee pads on and I do not. The referee seems to favour me because I lack knee pads. I blush.

Game on!

We are now in a lake, playing a game similar to water polo close to shore. All the players coast around on the water in man- or wind- or magic-powered things which are like crosses between hang gliders and one-man submarines. They have two membranes and they fold in the middle. They can go under water for short periods of time. Sometimes to my eyes, however, they take the form of larger conical brass submersibles, kind of rusty with old time bolted portholes and rotating fan-blade-sections for propulsion. My sister is gone and in her place is a friend of mine, who is scoring most of our team's goals.

The "ball" in fact seems to be some kind of natural object from the surrounding forest. Perhaps the gnarled end of a tree stump. And now I have to return it to its original place. Is the game over?

I am trudging through the trees and rocks and general nastiness of the summer-dry wilderness, when I stumble upon a rocky stream/waterfall/inlet section of another lake. I notice a general sense of decay about the place. Rotting wood and breeding insects and sundry fungi consuming dead plant matter at a visible rate. An odd mixture of peacefulness and muted fear.

That's when the British nature documentary narrator pipes in with a hushed voice:

"It is places like this that the natural elements of decay will thrive in the most. With numerous fallen trees and pools of stagnant water, the bacteria, fungi, and hatching mosquitos all find this place a comfortable home."

Then I notice certain areas untouched by the rot...almost.

"Here we see how these critters are attracted to the waters which are still clear, the wood which is still pure."

I leave. My job of returning the ball is forgotten. I run through the forest and I am scared because I am lost. Soon, however, the trees part to reveal my familiar house on its city street. No questions. I walk up to the door and unlock it with my key, which is in my right hand pocket like it always is. I step inside and think how it's kind of funny that I should stumble upon my house so easily, especially when I was just in a forest. Is this a dream?

I study my surroundings, and they are all perfectly detailed, perfectly lifelike. The shining brass of the door handle in front of me...the familiar smells of my home. All my senses function flawlessly. This is not a dream.

And then I drift into wakefulness, catching a glimpse of my bedroom wall right before returning to my perfectly lifelike front hallway, amazed that a dream could stand up to such scrutiny. I made a mental note that mere experiential investigation is not always enough to tell a dream from reality. I'd have to pinch myself next time.

Seconds later, I am playing the game in the lake again. We have just scored a goal, and I submit to the illusions of sleep.